Love Letters – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

What better way to celebrate the season of love than to invite a trio of married couples to present the stirring and sincere A. R Gurney play “Love Letters” in all its dramatic splendor. Music Theatre of Connecticut has all the hearts and flowers ready, with no need for strings of violins, as first Joanna Gleason and hubby Chris Sarandon opened on January 26-28, followed by Beverly and Kirby Ward from February 2-4 and then Jodi Stevens and Scott Bryce February 9-11.

“Love Letters” is simply a series of written words, some of friendship, of conversation, of anger, of disappointment and, ultimately, of love. In this age of e-mails, text messages, twitters and Facebook, it is refreshing to return to a gentler and kinder and more personal time when people took pen to paper and actually exchanged handwritten notes. Andy even uses a pen with real ink.

We meet Melissa Gardner who has had a fifty-year relationship with childhood friend Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. The two connect in grade school, second grade to be exact, and even though she is cynical, outlandish, outspoken and a tad rebellious and he is straight arrow, conservative and a bit stuffy, they form a connection that endures over time and geographical separation. To him, she will always be a “lost princess ” looking for her Land of Oz and to her, he will always be her knight and her anchor.

Whether they are exchanging postcards from summer camp, notes about escapades at private school, get well missives after she breaks her leg skiing, congratulatory words on his top of the class college graduation or the inevitable letters of apology for some slight or misstep, Melissa and Andy mark all the big and small moments of their friendship and affection by writing to each other. Even their pauses in communication speak volumes, when one or the other is miffed.

Into her notes, Melissa inserts drawings of cats with long tails, bears that dance and kangaroos that jump over glasses of orange juice, cartoons that hint early on about the art career she will pursue, pursue all the way to Italy. Into his letters, Andrew reveals his love of the law and of politics that suggests his future path in life. Kevin Connors directs this poignant interchange of heartfelt, sometimes silly, often loving, communication that spans five decades.

For tickets ($30-55), call Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk , behind Nine West Shoes, at 203-454-3883 or online at Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. On Monday, February 5, Harvest Restaurant will donate 10% of its dinner receipts to MTC as part of its new Charity Night.

Let real life husbands and wives share the intimacies of Andrew and Melissa so beautifully, expressing how he spent his whole life trying to rescue his lost princess of Oz by continuing giving pieces of himself to her to keep through his letters.